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A5
Faculty Welfare Committee

 

The Faculty Welfare Committee (FWC) met five times during the academic year: September 9, October 18, November 15, February 16, and April 30. All meetings were chaired by Professor Worthy. This report summarizes the FWC’s efforts for the 2011-12 year. The committee focused on three issues during the year:

  1. Protection for faculty from arbitrary reclassification of their status and duties (i.e., from “research faculty” to “teaching faculty”) without due process.
  2. Monitoring the rights of lecturers and other non tenure-track faculty.
  3. Implementing procedures for identifying and supporting tenured faculty members who cannot perform the duties of their employment due to a permanent cognitive condition.

September 9, 2011
At the September 9 meeting (attended by Professors Alman, Perry, Vaaler, Warner, and Worthy), the chair reviewed the 2010-11 FWC annual report. The group agreed to focus on the issue of protection for faculty from arbitrary reclassification of their status and duties (i.e., from “research faculty” to “teaching faculty”) without due process.

The committee wondered how such considerations might be tied to promotion, merit, and termination. There was general agreement that there should be a University policy in place for decisions made in regard to accountability processes and faculty appointments/tracks, that it should be transparent, that faculty should have input, and that there should be an appeal process. We decided to investigate how decisions are made about the nature of faculty appointments and how accountability processes are enacted across the University and in colleges and departments.

Alan Friedman, chair of the Faculty Council, joined us for part of the meeting, informing us that there is currently no University policy that determines the standards for faculty productivity. Colleges and departments make these decisions through executive committees. Friedman recommended we coordinate with the Committee for Academic Freedom and Responsibility, which oversees the post-tenure review process, and with the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee as we pursue these issues.

David Warner raised the issue of faculty benefits (e.g., health care), how those decisions are made, and if there is faculty input.

October 18, 2011
The second meeting (attended by Professors Alman, Granoff, McCray, Perry, Rawlins, Vaaler, Warner, and Worthy) began with a discussion of how productivity is measured across the University with the conclusion that there are substantial differences across and even within departments as well as a lack of consistency and transparency. There was a general consensus that checks and balances need to be in place to protect faculty members from unwarranted and involuntary reassignment to a “teaching track,” as well as more transparency about decisions regarding merit and salary increases. This discussion was mainly about the handling of tenured and tenure-track faculty. However, one tenured committee member noted, “lecturers are the most abused group on campus.”

The committee was joined by Brian Evans, chair of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Responsibility. Several committee members were surprised to learn that the Handbook of Operating Procedures mandates that every faculty member (including lecturers) receive an annual written evaluation of teaching, service, and research. While grievance procedures are clearly available to faculty, the welfare committee members want faculty to have prospective fair warning with opportunity for remedy.

November 15, 2011
The third meeting (attended by Alman, Granof, Leite, Perry, Vaaler, Warner, and Worthy) continued the previous discussions of protection for faculty from arbitrary reclassification of their status and duties. We examined some of the safeguards and transparencies that, in principle, are guaranteed through section 3.17 of the Handbook of Operating Procedures and hope that these will be extended to other administrative decisions such as reclassification and other changes in status. Perry was delegated to draft a statement with regard to such a recommendation to the Faculty Council. The committee believes that these protections will be of increasing importance as the recommendations of the Committee of 125 are implemented in handing over more decision-making power to deans and department chairs.

Granof alerted the committee to the report of the 2002 “Langlois Committee,” which made recommendations regarding the status and welfare of non tenure-track faculty. Among other recommendations, the committee charged the Faculty Welfare Committee with working with the provost to carry out the recommendations of the report, but so far this has not been done. The committee agreed that that will be one of the main foci of the spring work of the committee.

Warner reported that he serve on the Wellness Advisory Committee, set up to advise on initiatives underway to encourage and incentivize healthy behavior, and will keep the FWC posted.

February 16, 2012
The third meeting (attended by Vaaler, Worthy, Westbrook, Rawlins, Perry, and Warner) focused on the issue of faculty who are unable to perform their duties due to cognitive impairment. Linda Millstone, associate vice president for institutional equity and workforce civersity, and Mary Steinhardt, faculty ombuds, presented this issue to the committee. Also attending were Brian Evans, chair of the Committee of Counsel on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, and Desmond Lawler, chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee.

Linda Millstone began the meeting by describing an issue that has come up a number of times with her office as well as in the Ombuds office, that is, faculty members who are unable to perform their duties (research and/or teaching) because of permanent, chronic, and/or progressive cognitive issues caused by dementia or mental illness. Indicators can include worsening student evaluations, missing or being late to classes, and/or negative post-tenure reviews.

Administrators (deans, chairs, directors) are not trained to handle these issues and are often unaware of existing options. Procedures are inconsistent, are often punitive, and can lead to lawsuits. An expedient, fair process is needed by which these faculty members can be treated respectfully and humanely, honoring their contributions, while also ensuring students are taught by competent faculty.

Ideas for addressing these issues include getting EAP involved, appointing a faculty member or committee to oversee the issue, and communicating the range of possible solutions to administrators.

April 20, 2012
At the final meeting (attended by Worthy, Vaaler, Perry, Warner, Granof, and Leite), we reviewed and discussed a draft statement submitted by Perry about the issue of administrators changing faculty status without consent or due process. Consensus of the committee was that some of the concerns might have been unclear. However, there was agreement on the key issue in that there needs to be a transparent process, procedures, and implementation of procedures. The FWC will discuss the issue with members of the Faculty Council to make them aware of these concerns and to get their perspectives.

Warner presented information to the committee regarding smoking and health insurance. There will now be an extra $30.00 per month added to the out-of-pocket cost of health insurance for smokers.

Vaaler was elected chair for the 2012-13 Faculty Welfare Committee. The committee’s major priority for the 2012-13 year will be to review and oversee implementation of the “Langlois report,” outlining policies regarding non-tenure track faculty. Worthy will work with Martha Hilley, chair-elect of the Faculty Council, to rewrite the charge of the FWC to include this issue.

                                                                                               

Mary Jo Worthy, chair